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:: Theo :: Peace :: Voo ::
08 January 2011 / The Castle (Oldham St) / Manchester
By Ged Camera

The guitar sound of the VOO fades away and the proceedings come to an uncertain halt. No-one in the audience is quite sure whether to applaud or not, and the 3 band members look quizzically at each other before the silence is broken with an apologetic announcement by the guitarist “Sorry about that but the guitar has been in the back of the car for two weeks, and it’s kinda like packed in”. Even guitars are feeling the effect of the cold. A few cable changes later though and the band manages to finish the set.

So the present swapping season is over and a decent crowd of people are out to literally watch the icicles melt over a few live bands. The “old” version of the Castle was noted for a hole in a corner under which a guitarist normally stood. On a clear night stars could be seen, or an a rainy one, it would be allowed to collect in a strategically placed bucket. If the band were shit you could always watch the guitarist trying to avoid being electrocuted. After the refurbishment, it would appear that the new roof has sprung several leaks, most of which are over the stage area. It’s a bit off putting for the next band, PEACE, that’s appearing as part of this all day festival, but it’s the least of their worries.

“Does anyone know how to use these foot pedals” asks the guitarist to the crowd. “Anyone got a multi plug adaptor?” asks the vocalist. This could be a long night Eventually, after a 3 minute run through on the pedals and with said adaptor found, the band begin. Luckily the band are better than their preparations, after a few bars of their opening number, the past is put to one side because this band can play. They craft deft musical layers together, using a combination of electronic and real drums, supplemented with the intertwining of the two guitars producing rockier version of Explosions In the Sky type moments.

The Castle is only a relatively small venue, but perfect for putting on relatively new acts, but their equipment is usually on the stage. Theo has his drum kit in the middle of the floor, and that’s where it is staying. So, understandably, the crowd stand on the stage. They also decide to stand on any available speaker stack to try to gain some vantage point. They clearly know more about Theo than I do.

When he sits at the kit, it’s not so much as circling the wagons, as being at a circus and Theo the ring master, is controlling the proceedings, as well as giving three-minute overviews of how to use guitar pedals. Playing an instrument and looping if back is not new, but I’ve seldom heard it put to such a vibrant and aggressive manner, in the best possible way. Guitar and drums are combined, not in an exhibition of technical ability, though he obviously has it. Rather it resembles an interactive event without, but not lacking in, vocals, harnessing sound and energy. It’s not quite clear where one segment finishes and the next commences, but that doesn’t matter. He seldom stays seated for too long before he pulls the guitar from behind his back and strides as far a possible into the crowd. At one point he has them all clapping in unison, a shepherd leading his flock.

It doesn’t seem so cold outside after all


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